The director of undergraduate studies, along with the department chair, reviews the curriculum every semester to ensure that course offerings cover a variety of literary genres as well as a wide range of historical periods. In addition, majors are required to meet with their departmental advisers every semester prior to registration in order to review course choices and design an appropriate schedule. An adviser is normally assigned at the beginning of the sophomore year.
The department’s gateway course, Introduction to Literary Study, introduces students to the basic mechanisms of analyzing both poetry and prose fiction. Among their 10 required courses, all majors must take a minimum of two and a maximum of four lecture courses, most of which are surveys of a broad topic. These include a two-semester sequence covering major works of British literature from the middle ages to the 20th century, Shakespeare, the Victorian novel, American literature, the modern novel, and comparable topics. Majors must also take a minimum of three pre-1800 courses to ensure historical diversity in course selection.
Many of our advanced seminars are designed to explore issues or authors in depth. Some of these focus on single authors, others on small constellations of authors, others still on historically or thematically focused topics. To supplement the regular offerings of the curriculum, undergraduate majors who have completed six hours of English beyond the introductory courses may arrange independent reading or research with the consent of a faculty member. In certain cases, undergraduates may be admitted to graduate seminars.
English majors are required to study at least one foreign language beyond the elementary level and to supplement their English courses with at least two introductory (non-English department) courses in the humanities and/or social sciences (fields such as history, philosophy, political science, and the history of science). Appropriate course selections in these fields are also worked out with the guidance of a departmental adviser.
Knowledge of a Foreign Language
The Department of English requires students to know at least one foreign language well enough to read literature in that language. Study of a foreign language enhances awareness of the grammatical, lexical, and expressive resources both of the language under study and of English. Ability to read in a language other than English allows students to understand both the relations and the differences among national literatures, and thus to grasp with greater precision the specificity of English literary culture while enjoying an increased diversity of literary experience. Students are expected to demonstrate skill in a foreign language by studying a language through a full year at the intermediate level or by passing a test indicating comparable proficiency.